Although kebabs were thought to have originated in the Middle East, they are popular everywhere these days and India is no exception. The Mughals first introduced kebabs into India around the 16th century. Since then, India has developed many unique and creative kebab dishes of their own using traditional Indian spices and marinating techniques. In India, kebabs are made in a large clay oven known as a tandoor. Tandoor ovens are able to heat foods to extremely high temperatures (1000 deg F). The trick to keeping the meat or poultry juicy and succulent is marinating it in yogurt. Traditionally, kebabs are skewered meats or vegetables cooked on a grill or even under the oven broiler. But these days, kebabs can be made using paneer, chicken, seafood or even fruit. Indian kebabs are delicious, healthy and very easy to prepare.
I am a huge fan of fennel in all of its delicious forms – fennel is a spice, vegetable and an herb. As far as spices go, fennel is one of my favorites. It has a lovely mild anise/licorice flavor that pairs well with most other spices. Fennel as a vegetable is an anti-oxidant and also a rich source of both fiber & Vitamin C. In India, fennel is known as “badishep” in Marathi & as “saunf” in Hindi. The seeds are often eaten after dinner as a digestive aid. Fennel seeds & ground fennel powder are both readily available in any Indian grocery store or market. My Fennel Spiced Chicken Kebabs are always a favorite among family & friends; I hope you will enjoy them as well.
FENNEL SPICED CHICKEN KEBABS:
2 lbs ground chicken (feel free to use ground turkey or lamb)
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 tsp ground fennel powder
2 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon powder
¼ tsp ground cardamom powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
juice of ½ lime
salt & pepper, to taste
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves
skewers, metal or wooden
lemon or lime wedges for garnish
vegetable or canola oil for basting
If you are using wooden skewers, they need to soak in water for 30 minutes so they will not burn.
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients (except the oil for basting and the lemon/lime wedges) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (the longer, the better).
Then divide the mixture into equal portions (18-20) and spread each portion onto a skewer creating a uniformly flattened shape around each skewer. Brush them with a little oil.
Grill the kebabs on an outdoor barbeque grill or an indoor grill pan until done. You can also use an oven, just preheat to 350 deg F and place the skewers on a foil lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until cooked. Garnish with lemon or lime wedges and serve with delicious fresh cilantro or mint chutney.
I often make these as meatballs, just make round balls (about ping pong ball size). You can then bake them in an oven at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until done. Serve as an appetizer, side dish or add them to curry of your choice.
You could also add some finely chopped baby spinach to the kebabs or meatballs.